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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger–Part 4

Or, Where I Stop Toying with Ted’s Patience and Get On with the Story

Ted is a patient person, but even his patience has come to an end. He has demanded to know what happens in Part 4 of my curious misadventures of the unlikeliest sports blogger.

So there I was, writing under the name Skol Girl, a member of the Daily Norseman site for about a month and suddenly they were asking if I was interested in writing for the site’s front page. I pinched myself and enjoyed that feeling of professional validation for longer than I should have when it suddenly occurred to me that my first front page story would land just before the Minnesota Vikings’ rematch with the New Orleans Saints.

Not since 1998 had Vikings fans experienced that acutely agonizing sense of what could have been the way they did after the Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC Championship game during the 2009 post-season. The game was close, scrappy, with both Brett Favre and Drew Brees marshalling their forces for incredible scoring drives. But the game ended with the Saints going on to the Super Bowl and the Vikings just going home. For the NFL to start the 2010 season with a rematch of that game…well, I got the feeling the NFL was setting up the Vikings to get completely trounced so the Super Bowl-winning Saints would have that glorious, “conquering-champion” moment.

My suspicion stemmed from the fact that the NFC Championship game was incredibly costly for the Vikings. Several key players were injured in that game and even several months later the Vikings’ roster was still gashed. I had my story.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little concerned about suddenly writing for the Daily Norseman front page. Because what I wrote would be on the site’s main page, a lot more people were going to be reading my articles and I really wanted to validate Chris Gates’ (our fearless leader) decision to add me to the staff. However, if I had known how I came to be offered that position, I would have been more interested in what Ted thought. Ah yes, we have come to the Ted portion of my tale and the explanation of why I refer to him as my fairy godfather.

Back when I was snarking back at Ted’s supportive comments on my fan posts (Part 3), I had no idea that he was sharing that same opinion with Chris and the other front-page writer Eric. See, my timing for drawing Ted’s attention was surprisingly good. Just as Ted was noticing my writing, the Daily Norseman found itself in need of another front-page writer.

It was Ted who recommended me for the front-page staff. He read my fan posts on the Daily Norseman and liked my peculiar take on football writing and my interaction with other DN members in the comments, which is kind of a big deal with DN.

As a chick in the sausage fest world of football writing, the odds are good that at least one guy in the entire readership of DN might be a dick. Thus far, I had been remarkably lucky in avoiding those people. However, there were a couple of the condescending “honey” and “sweetie” comments where guys kindly explained to me the error of my ways regarding my opinions. Actually, for some of those guys being condescending was probably a kindness—if I’d been a guy there’s a good chance they would have been a lot more abusive in their disagreement. Even though those “oh sweetie, let me explain something to you” comments grated on me, I tried not to answer back combatively. Sometimes it was a struggle, but I didn’t have many readers and couldn’t afford to start alienating them.

But Ted noticed my efforts. And it made him curious about me. Curiosity isn’t too surprising since a chick writing about football is only a little less rare than a two-headed duck. So, Ted wandered over here to WordPress to see what else I had written. Turns out he liked that too. Despite my family’s skepticism, it turns out I do have charm. Unfortunately, it’s only in print form.

When I set about writing that first front-page story, I had not a clue that Ted was my fairy godfather. That’s probably good because I had enough nerves about that first story, if I’d known he had vouched for me I would have been a wreck. Like I said, I wanted to validate the decision to add me to the front-page staff. It had me feeling insecure and as if I needed to up my game.

That professional insecurity is a spooky feeling and the urge to reinvent myself was strong. Fortunately, I had one of my better moments of self-awareness and realized that my style, quirky as it was, was what got me noticed so I should probably just be myself. I could improve, make sure to double-check all my facts and stuff like that, but stay myself. Even though my style wasn’t full of statistical analysis, it was full of me and I would sink or swim on the DN front-page as me.

I wrote exactly what I felt about the Vikings rematch with the Saints—dread. If the Vikings’ first game of the 2010 season was as costly as the last game of the 2009 season, I suspected that the Vikings would be limping the rest of the season. So, as humorously as I could, I wrote about how I would be cringing during that rematch and titled it “Wincing the Night Away,” I posted it, and then I waited.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first front-page post. That was probably good because any expectations I might have had would have been wrong. I got a ton of positive comments, some flirty banter, a marriage proposal, and asked out for a date. That guy who asked me out? A Saints fan–nope, not making that up. Real pity he was on the other end of the country because a guy who likes football and quotes Oscar Wilde is certainly worth meeting.

Despite my fears that DN readers would be outraged to have me doing my quirky schtick on the front page of the best Minnesota Vikings blog around, no one was calling for my immediate removal or saying I should be beaten with sticks. It was a surprise. Little did I know, bigger surprises were in store.

As always, thanks for reading. Join me for Part 5 and the bigger surprises. They may or may not have something to do with lights, cameras, and action.

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A Very Good Year to Be a Fan

Emma (4 days old) looks stylin' in her baby-size Helga horns as she watches her very first Vikings game with her proud auntie. Sometimes I call her Skol Baby.

I grew up hearing that children should be instilled with good core values so, ideally, they’ll cling to those good values and not grow up to be jerks. And that is why I’m going to do my part to instill good values in my new niece, Emma.

Not long after my sister told me that she was going to have a baby I decided to help this new, little person to become a good person. Armed with a plan, I took action—and made her a baby-size Helga horn hat. She may not know it yet, but Emma’s going to become a Vikings fan. Some things are too important to be left to chance.

Emma may have ample opportunity to be led astray and wooed by other NFL teams, but I’m going to do my best to keep that from happening. And there is a whiff of destiny to this because of all years to become a Vikings fan, this is one of the best ones since 2002, the last Vikings’ appearance in an NFC championship game. Being born in a year when the Vikings were the NFL sack leaders, were the second-ranked run defense, and when Brett Favre threw a career-low of seven interceptions has to be a good sign. If ever there was a good year to become a Vikings fan, this is it.

Even before the hoopla surrounding Brett Farve’s ousting from Green Bay, the Vikings were an ascending team. Team owners, Zygi and Mark Wilf, wanted to build a team to win championships and they have been willing to shake things up and lay out the cash to make it happen. In the four years the Wilfs have owned the team the Vikings have drastically changed personnel throughout the entire organization. A dome team, they built the Vikings for speed, an old-fashioned running game, and tough defense. They drafted the best players available regardless of position and signed free agents strategically. And this seems to have been a successful combination because this year the Vikings have ten players named to the Pro Bowl. Ten. The last time the Vikings had ten players named to the Pro Bowl was 1998.

And then, on August 18, 2009, the Minnesota Vikings signed long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

Adding Favre to the team would have made the 2009 season one to watch even if the rest of the team was mediocre at best. But the Vikings were a good team whose only glaring deficit was at the quarterback position. In August the strength of Brett Favre’s surgically repaired arm was unknown, but it’s January now and it seems safe to say that his arm is looking pretty darn good. Which is handy because he’s had to gun the ball downfield a lot more than he thought he would back when he signed with the Vikings.

This year has been a great year for Vikings football and a great year for stories about Vikings football. Back in August I speculated that there had to be at least a couple executives at Disney watching how Favre’s year would unfold because his 40-year-old season has “inspirational sports movie” written all over it. However, he’s hardly the only story, just the most obvious one. Several players have had a fantastic season, which is something of an understatement considering that half the NFC Pro Bowl team will be sporting purple helmets.

Probably my favorite development to watch this season has been the breakout performance of Sidney Rice. Considered a draft dud last year, now in his third year with the Vikings Sidney Rice is one of Favre’s favorite deep targets, hauling in three touchdowns during the Vikings victory over the Dallas Cowboys. And, I know it is a petty thing, but I’ve been comparing Rice to Randy Moss for a long time and it’s a little annoying to see the rest of the sports media world jumping on that bandwagon now.

Yup, if ever there was a good year to become a Vikings fan, this is it. And in a few years when I’m taking Emma to her first Vikings game, I’ll remind her that she became a fan in a very good year.

*This piece is also posted on vikingsmix.com under my alter-ego Skol Girl. You’ll find lots of blogs and news stories about the Minnesota Vikings there too so check it out and get your football fix.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2010 in Brett Favre, Family, Football

 

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